Monday, May 23, 2011

Staying Sweet: Sugar as part of your Food Storage Plan

Sugar is one of the "no-nos" of the typical American diet. If refined sugar is supposed to be so bad for you and have very little nutritional value, why should you have sugar as part of your food storage?

Lots of reasons!

First, you need at least a bit of sugar for most types of baking and many items that you can (jams, jellies, pickles, etc.). If you are cooking exclusively from food storage, you need to have all of the basic building blocks available to you. Like it or not, sugar is part of that.

Not only is sugar an essential in many made-from-scratch items, but sugar is also something that is difficult to make on your own. Unless you have a bee hive or sugar cane field and processing equipment, you need to store it. If you look back to the time of the pioneers, they treasured sugar because it wasn't always readily available. Store it today, because tomorrow it might be unavailable or ridiculously expensive.

Speaking of ridiculously expensive, we all know that food storage is a way to fight inflation. Stored properly, white sugar and honey will last practically forever. If you buy sugar at today's prices, you are guaranteed to save money since food prices are continuing to rise. 

Lastly, sugar can be a useful addition to your first aid kit. Really! Check this out regarding the uses of white sugar and this link about honey. Some people report success in treating their allergies by ingesting locally-produced honey. Hubby Dear encourages his patients to use honey instead of cough syrups and cough suppressants, though it is important to remember to never give honey to babies under the age of one.

Now that I've sold you on storing sugar, what should you be storing and in what quantities? If you look at the LDS Food Storage Calculator, you'll notice that it suggests that you store a wide variety of sugars.

For a year's worth of food storage, you need:

3 lb honey per adult, 1 lb per child*
40 lb white sugar per adult, 20 lb per child
3 lb brown sugar per adult, 1 lb per child
1 lb molasses per adult or child
3 lb corn syrup per adult, 1 lb per child
3 lb jams per adult, 1 lb per child
6 lb powdered drink mix per adult, 3 lb per child
1 lb flavored gelatin per adult or child

*A child is defined as age 6 and younger in this calculator

The addition of Jello and corn syrup to this list perplexed me at first. The Jello began to make a bit more sense after I read somewhere that Utah is the number one consumer of Jello and it is even the official state snack. The food storage guidelines were drawn not only for cataclysmic emergencies but also for everyday eating. If Jello or corn syrup is part of your regular diet, by all means store it.

I decided to use the LDS quantities as a guide for how much to store total, but to personalize it for our family.
  • We do not eat Jello or corn syrup, so I'm not storing that.
  • We do, however, use a lot of real maple syrup. Maple syrup has a decent shelf life; the jugs I buy have expiration dates 2-3 years in the future. We'll easily rotate through them before they approach the expiration dates.
  • According to the calculator, our family needs 12 lb of brown sugar. We use more brown sugar than that, so I'm storing more. I repack the sugar in quart mason jars (a 2 lb package will fit in a quart jar) and vacuum seal it with my FoodSaver. You can also mix a bit of molasses into white sugar to make brown sugar.
  • We are also storing much more honey than "required". Our favorite bread recipe uses honey as a sweetener and honey is probably better for you than regular white sugar. Honey has an amazing shelf life. If it crystallizes, gently warm it and it will become liquid again.
  • The best thing about storing white sugar is that it lasts forever. Store it in an air-tight container but SKIP the oxygen absorbers!
  • I'm following the recommendations for molasses, jams, and powdered drink mix. Although we don't normally consume Tang or other powdered drink mixes, they are essential to our food storage plan. First of all, they are an excellent source of Vitamin C, something that we are short on. Second, drink mixes can go a long way toward making stored water more palatable.

What types of sugar are you storing and in what quantities?


  1. Pouring stored water back and forth between pitchers or whisking it for a moment aerates it and makes it taste better.

  2. pure maple syrup gets moldy quickly if not refrigerated-- not a problem with imitation ones, which are really flavored corn syrups.